All posts by AM

Updated COVID-19 Requirement Relaxations – June 2021

We’d like to once again thank all of our fantastic clients for their understanding and compliance with our temporary COVID-19 requirements over the past 12 months. In light of the low incidence of COVID-19 in the ACT, we will be further relaxing our requirements as of the 1st of June 2021. The safety of our staff, clients and patients remains our top priority.

Updated requirements as of 1st June 2021:
  • Please use provided hand sanitizer prior to entry.
  • All people entering our premises must ‘Check In’ using QR codes displayed on the front door & reception desk.
  • If your are arriving for an appointment and there is enough space in the waiting room for you to safely practice adequate social distancing, you are now welcome to enter without phoning reception first.
  • We ask that you please limit the number of humans to only those who must attend. If more than one person is attending your appointment we kindly ask that you phone reception on arrival and wait in your car until instructed to enter.
  • If you are experiencing any cold/flu like symptoms, or are returning from a known COVID-19 area of concern, please phone us to reschedule your appointment or arrange a contactless consultation.
  • If you or your pet are more comfortable waiting outside you are welcome to do so, please phone reception on arrival and we will text your mobile when we are ready for you to enter.
  • You are now welcome to pay via card OR cash.

If our waiting room is at capacity when you arrive one of our staff may ask you to briefly wait outside until there is enough space for you to safely practice adequate social distancing.

These requirements are subject to change in accordance with current ACT Health recommendations without notice.

Thank you again for your understanding and cooperation as we continue to find the best balance between convenience and caution.

We’re Hiring – Full Time/Part Time Receptionist *APPLICATIONS CLOSED*

*please note, applications for this position are now closed*

Hall Veterinary Surgery & Vets at Amaroo are looking for a full time or part time customer care extraordinaire to join our team! If you are passionate about the veterinary industry, providing customer service excellence and creating moments that matter, what’re you waiting for?

About The Role:

• Full time position is 38 hours per week including some Saturdays
• Part time applicants also considered
• Located in picturesque Hall Village & Amaroo Shopping Precinct
• Fast-paced, challenging and rewarding role supporting a team of skilled veterinarians and veterinary nurses
• $20-$26/hour dependent on age and relevant experience

About The Perks:

• Above award remuneration and paid parental leave
• Ample opportunities for career progression & growth
• Supportive team environment committed to continual improvement
• Free parking at both clinic locations
• We aim to roster 4 day work weeks for full timers with 1 in 4 Saturdays
• Need we mention the puppy & kitten cuddles..?

About Us:

Hall Veterinary Surgery has been part of the Hall community for 30 years and has proven to be a trusted choice for Canberran pet owners.
In recent years we opened a second purpose-built clinic, Vets at Amaroo. This clinic is situated in the relatively new suburb of Amaroo approximately a 15-minute drive from Hall. https://amaroovet.com.au/

We pride ourselves on delivering gold standard care to our patients and their humans through our friendly and personalised approach.  We have a dedicated customer care team who are passionate about going the extra mile to assist our clients.

About you:

Our ideal candidate;
• Has experience in a customer service role
• Finds satisfaction in helping clients when they need it most
• Is excited by the opportunity to push themselves, learn and grow
• Is resilient, enjoys a challenge and shows initiative
• Possesses a high level of emotional intelligence & self awareness
• Is a team player, dedicated to working together to succeed
• Is passionate about animals and is excited to pave out a career in a veterinary profession

Applications:

If this sounds like the job for you we’d love to hear from you! Email a one page cover letter outlining why you’re the best person for the role and your up to date CV to April Maney – april@hallvet.com.au
Please include your availability and whether you’re interested in a full time or part time position.

Trainee veterinary nurses will be considered for this position, however we cannot guarantee trainee nursing shifts for the first year of your employment with us.

Applications for this role close at midnight on Sunday the 23rd of May.

*please note, applications for this position are now closed*

We’re Hiring – Cert IV Qualified Veterinary Nurse Wanted!


Hall Vet Surgery and Vets at Amaroo are looking for a Certificate IV qualified veterinary nurse with minimum 2 years of nursing experience to join our team. We are well-equipped small animal practices located in Canberra, who deliver the best care to each and every patient and have lots of fun along the way.

Hall Veterinary Surgery has been part of the Hall community for 30 years. We are located on the outskirts of Canberra in a village atmosphere and surrounded by nature with a great coffee shop just down the road.

Recently, we opened a second purpose-built clinic called ‘Vets at Amaroo’. This clinic is situated in the relatively new suburb of Amaroo approximately a 10-minute drive from Hall. https://amaroovet.com.au/

Opening our second practice gives us an opportunity to expand our wonderful team of Nurses. Bonus points for an applicant with a keen interest in mentoring and training our wonderful junior nurses.

Our Senior nurses take pride in maintaining a high standard of care for every patient. Whilst they are all highly trained and professional they also love to have fun and celebrate the wins along the way. We are looking for someone who is confident in anaesthetic monitoring (including BP and ETCO2) and emergency and critical care cases, is experienced in nurse consultations (including arthritis injections, post-op rechecks, suture and drain removals etc) and is an all-round legend who gets along well with a wonderful and diverse team of people. A great sense of humour is also an essential skill for this role!

If you think you are the amazing person we are looking for please send your resume and cover letter to:
Keely Scotland
keely@hallvet.com.au

Weight Management In Cats

Did you know that obesity is the most common nutritional disorder seen in domestic cats? Many of us don’t even realise that our pet has become overweight as it often takes place gradually over time, yet we know that in some countries up to 40% of all adult cats are obese.

As much as we love to spoil our cats with a few extra biscuits in the morning or it can be tempting to give into their hungry yowls in the afternoon, the excess weight can have serious and detrimental effects on the health. Obese cats have an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, many types of cancer, arthritis and degeneration of joints, urinary problems and stones to name a few.

Not only does carrying excess weight have a negative impact on your cats general health, happiness and overall quality of life, it can also significantly shorten their life expectancy compared to a healthy-weight cat.

WHAT CAUSES WEIGHT GAIN?

Weight gain is the result of an increase in body fat. This is usually caused by an imbalance between the energy your cat is consuming and the energy your cat is using. Overfeeding, a decrease in exercise, high calorie foods and frequent treats or extras are often contributing factors. Other factors can include age, desexing status and medical conditions.

SO WHAT CAN I DO?

Accepting that there is a problem and committing to getting your pet back to a healthy weight is step one. To understand your pets current condition, their goal weight and how to get there, we recommend booking an appointment with your vet. Weight loss should be gradual and steady in order to be safe. Once you know your pet’s goal weight, there are a number of methods you can implement to help them get there.

  • DIET – Proper nutrition plays a very important role in treating an overweight cat. There are scientifically formulated diets to help with healthy and safe weight reduction in cats such as Hills Metabolic and Royal Canin Satiety, you can speak to your vet about the best weight management diet for your pet. Use the correct feeding guide and measure out your pets daily meals with scales or a measuring cup. Make sure to account for any treats, dental chews etc. in their total daily feed.
  • EXERCISE & ACTIVITIES – Promoting regular exercise will not only assist you in decreasing your pets weight, it will also increase their overall happiness and quality of life. Promoting regular exercise for cats means providing ample opportunity for them to climb and play. Utilising cat trees and scratching posts can help to get them climbing and toys like laser pointers and teasers can encourage the use of their natural hunting instincts.
  • WEIGH INS – Regular weight checks will let you know whether you’re on the right path, allow you to adjust feeding amounts and also help to keep you motivated by showing you how far you and your pet have come. Give us a call to find a time to come and use our cat scales.
  • TIPS AND TRICKS – Move your pets food bowls further away from where they tend to spend their time to encourage them to get moving when they want to go to eat/drink. Rather than letting your cat inhale their biscuits straight from a bowl, disperse their food over a large area or use a treat ball to make them work for it! Swap your cats regular treats for weight loss friendly treats like Hills Feline Metabolic Treats and don’t feed more than the recommended daily limit.

If you’re unsure if you pet is a healthy weight or you’d like more information on weight management, please give u a call on (02) 6230 2223.

Weight Management In Dogs

Did you know that obesity is the most common nutritional disorder seen in cats and dogs? Many of us don’t even realise that our dog has become overweight as it often takes place gradually over time.

As much as we love to spoil our pets, that extra treat in the morning and the odd bowl of leftovers every other day can have serious and detrimental effects on your dogs health and well-being. Research shows that being as little as 20% overweight can greatly increase the risk of your dog developing serious health conditions such as diabetes mellitus, pancreatitis, arthritis and painful joint problems, urinary stones or heart disease.

Not only does carrying excess weight have a negative impact on your dog’s general wellbeing, happiness and overall quality of life, it can also significantly shorten their life expectancy compared to a healthy-weight pet.

WHAT CAUSES WEIGHT GAIN?

Weight gain is the result of an increase in body fat. This is usually caused by feeding too much or a decrease in exercise and in many cases it’s a combination of both. But there can be other contributing factors too, such as;

  • AGE – Older dogs are less active, have less energy, and require fewer calories, which is why nutrition formulated for his age is vital to his weight and overall health.
  • DESEXING STATUS – Desexed dogs have a decreased metabolism, meaning they require 30% less food overall than their un-desexed counterparts.
  • OVERFEEDING – Dogs with unlimited access to food understandably eat more than they need — this includes table scraps and extra treats from family members.
  • QUALITY OF FOOD – Many supermarket type commercial foods are loaded with salt and fat. This improves taste, which means your dog will usually love it, but it won’t love them back.
  • BREED – Some dog breeds are typically more food motivated and less active than others making them more likely to gain weight.
  • MEDICAL PROBLEMS – Weight gain can be associated with medical disorders that may require veterinary treatment.

SO WHAT CAN I DO?

Accepting that there is a problem and committing to getting your pet back to a healthy weight is step one. To understand your pets current condition, their goal weight and how to get there, we recommend booking an appointment with your vet. Weight loss should gradual and steady in order to be safe. Once you know your pet’s goal weight, there are a number of methods you can implement to help them get there.

  • DIET – Proper nutrition plays a very important role in treating an overweight dog, speak to your vet about the best weight management diet for your pet. Use the correct feeding guide and measure your pets daily meals with a measuring cup or scales. Make sure to account for any treats, dental chews etc. in their daily feeds.
  • EXERCISE – Promoting regular exercise will not only assist you in decreasing your pets weight, it will increase their overall happiness and quality of life.
  • WEIGH INS – Regular weight checks will let you know whether you’re on the right path, allow you to adjust feeding amounts and also help to keep you motivated by showing you how far you and your pet have come. You are always welcome to pop in and use our scales for weight checks, no appointment needed.
  • ACTIVITIES – As well as regular exercise, playing games or activities is a fun way to get the whole family involved in your pets weight loss journey.
    1. “Puppy Ping Pong” is a game that will not only get your dog moving but will also help to reinforce their recall! Have family members stand apart and take it in turns to call your dog to encourage them to run to you, reward the behaviour when they get to you with a small amount of boiled chicken breast, carrot or other healthy treat.
    2. “Find It” Is great for exercise and mental stimulation. Cut up some carrot or pumpkin into small pieces and throw them around your backyard. Your pet will be on an adventure lead by their nose to try and find the food you threw.
  • TIPS AND TRICKS – Make swaps where you can e.g. try swapping your pets schmackos or pig ear for a carrot. Rather than letting your pet hoover their biscuits straight from a bowl, disperse their food over a large area or use a treat ball to make them work for it!
If you’re unsure if you pet is a healthy weight or you’d like more information on weight management, please give u a call on (02) 6230 2223.

How To Tell When Your Dog Actually Wants To Be Patted

It’s a fact. Not all dogs like to be patted, at least not all of the time. 

Dogs have preferences as to where, when and how they like to be touched. They also have preferences for who they like to be touched by. Just because they love a chest scratch from their care giver, doesn’t mean they want the same from a stranger. Even in the same household a dog may enjoy a particular interaction from one member of the family, but not from a different member. The good news is that it’s easy to ask a dog if they like the way you’re touching them. It simply requires some knowledge of dog communication and attention to their body language.

Many dog owners are sure that their dog likes being hugged, however in dog language, hugs can be aversive, and represent intimidation and restraint rather than affection. It’s true that some dogs tolerate or even enjoy a hug, but for the majority a hug is not an enjoyable interaction. 

We need to recognise and teach children to learn our dogs “no” signals. When you approach to pick up or hug your dog become aware of attempts to avoid the impending interaction. If you bend down and your little dog moves away, they probably don’t like being picked up much, let alone hugged. Many dogs tolerate our hugs but don’t actually enjoy them. Some dogs don’t mind a hug from their special people, but don’t want the same affection from others.

Here’s a quick summary of how dogs say “yes” or “no”. Sometimes they say “maybe”. I suspect they are conflicted at times because they want our attention but don’t like the type of attention that they receive. It’s the classic walk away and then come back and then walk away routine. Once we change our approach, a “maybe” can soon become a “yes”. 

Be aware that all dog body language needs to be observed with consideration of the context within which it occurs, what their whole body is ‘saying’ and the individual dog involved. Just like people, different dogs have little idiosyncrasies and styles of communicating.

Body language that says “Yes”

  • Moving into your space, coming to you for physical contact
  • Nudging a head into your hand or lap
  • Pawing your hand
  • Leaning into you
  • Lying down near you, touching you or flopping onto you
  • Face, mouth and eyes are relaxed and droopy


Body language that says “No”

  • Moving away from you, especially if they don’t return. This is so important to take notice of. If a dog does not come to you, do not go to the dog and invade their space, especially if you are unfamiliar to that dog. Do not put dogs in situations where they cannot move away or escape from a patting interaction even when you’re convinced it is pleasant. They may not appreciate it.
  • Leaning away from you.
  • Turning the head away.
  • Looking away from you.
  • Shying away or ducking the head away from your hand.
  • Rolling the eyes away to show the whites of the eye (whale eye)
  • Yawning
  • Licking the lips
  • Freezing (a tense stillness as opposed to a relaxed stillness)

If you miss the more subtle body language for “no”, the dog may escalate their distance increasing behaviours to become more obvious and effective. Dogs who really find patting aversive (i.e. hate it and can’t wait to escape) may learn to skip the subtle requests if history has taught them that no-one ever listens. When pushed, a dog can learn that growling, snapping or biting are VERY effective strategies to give them space.

 Body language that could mean “Yes” or “No”

  • Licking your face or hands. This can be asking for space or for you to stop. It is a common appeasement signal. Appeasement behaviours function to reduce or get rid of some part of the interaction which they do not like without using overt aggression. It can also be a sign of affection from a very mouthy, licky dog.
  • Rolling over and expose the belly. If the dog is tense, lips are drawn back and tense, this means “no”. It is another appeasement behaviour. If the dog is floppy and the eyes are soft or closed, this means “rub mah belly”. Refer to the pictures below.
Appeasement Roll Over – leave me alone:
* Ears pinned back (one forward due to pressure of couch)
* Tight mouth, pulled back at commissure
* Front paws tucked tight, not relaxed
* Quick lick lip
​* Back legs rolling partially open but tense


Rub Mah Belly Roll Over:
* Mouth relaxed (floppy gums dropping with gravity, exposing teeth)
*  Front legs floppy and relaxed
* Back legs relaxed, flopping wide open with gravity
* Skin around eyes soft, not taut
* Body relaxed, stretched out fully, lying fully on back


  • Paw raised. If the dog is tense and the body is leaning away, it means “no”. If the dog is leaning towards you and body is relaxed, it can be “yes” or “maybe”.
  • Walking away. Some dogs will walk away and come back. They may want attention from you, but not the sort you are giving. If you change what you are doing, they may stay.
  • Mouthing the hand. This may mean “no” if it occurs whilst you are petting and stops when you stop. Some dogs show affection by mouthing, so they may gently mouth your hand as you pat them. If it occurs when you stop petting, it could be a mouthy dog requesting for you to continue. 
  • Being motionless. If the dog is relaxed and choosing to stay without restraint, they may be enjoying the pat. They may lean ever so slightly into your touch, with all the other signs of enjoyment (soft eyes, ears, mouth). If they have “frozen” and are tense or rigid under your touch, almost resisting relaxation or holding their breath, they are probably not enjoying the patting and are waiting for it to stop. You can often feel a pounding heart under the chest of a dog who is very still but not enjoying the contact.
  • Lots of wiggling. Some dogs are happy, wiggly, bouncy balls of exuberance who can’t stop moving when they are enjoying an activity. Others are nervous, uncomfortable wigglers who are torn between wanting some attention from you but not liking where or how they are being touched.

Many pet parents notice a difference in the way their dog approaches, stays and responds to them when they take the time to observe, ‘ask’ the dog and accommodate what he/she enjoys.
 
Reference: This article is adapted from © Sonya Bevan Dogcharming.com.au. She demonstrates some of her points in the following short video.

We’re Hiring – Full Time Receptionist *Applications Closed*

** Applications for this position are closed **

Hall Veterinary Surgery & Vets at Amaroo are looking for a full time customer care extraordinaire with a minimum of 2 years experience to join our team! If you are passionate about providing customer service excellence and creating moments that matter, what’re you waiting for?

About The Role:
• Minimum of 2 Years Experience in a Customer Service Role Required
• Full Time Position ~38hrs/wk Including Some Saturdays
• Located in Picturesque Hall Village & Amaroo Shopping Precinct
• Fast-paced, Challenging and Rewarding Role
• Supportive Team Environment Committed to Continual Improvement
• Need We Mention the Puppy & Kitten Cuddles..?

About Us:
Hall Veterinary Surgery has been part of the Hall community for 30 years. We are located on the outskirts of Canberra in a village atmosphere and surrounded by nature with a great coffee shop just down the road.

Recently, we opened a second purpose-built clinic called ‘Vets at Amaroo’. This clinic is situated in the relatively new suburb of Amaroo approximately a 15-minute drive from Hall. https://amaroovet.com.au/

We pride ourselves on delivering gold standard care to our patients and their humans through our friendly and personalised approach.  We have a dedicated customer care team who are passionate about going the extra mile to assist our clients.

About you:
Our ideal candidate;
• Has a minimum of 2 years experience in a customer service role
• Finds satisfaction in helping clients when they need it most
• Is excited by the opportunity to push themselves, learn and grow
• Is resilient, enjoys a challenge and shows initiative
• Possesses a high level of emotional intelligence & self awareness
• Is a team player, dedicated to working together to succeed

Applications:
If this sound like the job for you we’d love to hear from you!
Please email a one page cover letter outlining why you’re the best person for the role and your up to date CV to April Maney – april@hallvet.com.au

Applications for this role close on 11:59pm Monday 1st of February. Interviews for this position will be held on Saturday the 7th of February at Hall Veterinary Surgery.

Please note, this is a customer service role only and is not a pathway to a veterinary nursing career. If you are interested in pursuing a career in veterinary nursing please keep an eye out for a vacancy in our nursing team.

** Applications for this position are closed **

Keeping Your Pet Safe This Christmas

Unfortunately, most veterinarians will tell you that Christmas is typically a very busy time of year at any emergency veterinary hospital. So with Christmas upon us again, here are some tips for keeping your pets safe (and out of your local emergency waiting room) as they join in the festivities.


Here are a few of the common Christmas hazards, posing a threat to your pets health:

Some human foods are just not meant for dogs:
Chocolate, plum pudding, Christmas cake, fruit platters and delicious roasts and stuffing. What could possibly be wrong with sharing that!

Unfortunately, these Christmas goodies can contain ingredients that are dangerous to dogs, including chocolate, sultanas, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, macadamia nuts and cooked bones.

Signs will depend on the food that has been eaten and can be delayed. For example kidney damage from grapes and raisins may not become apparent until weeks down the track. If your dog has eaten something they shouldn’t have, please speak to a veterinarian immediately.


Alcohol
This is a no-brainer really but there is no safe amount of alcohol for your dog to have. If you suspect your pet has ingested any alcohol please contact your vet. Symptoms can range from vomiting, depression, difficulty walking, slow breathing, collapse and can even progress to coma and death in some extreme cases.

Overindulgence and Pancreatitis
Just a little bit of ham can’t hurt, right? Well, a little here and a little there adds up! Although it’s nice to give your pet a special treat occasionally, we must remember that a little to us can be a lot to them, and eating too much of something outside of their normal diet, especially if high in fat, is a very common cause of illness for them.

Overindulgence can cause stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhoea and pancreatitis (which often requires days of treatment in hospital, and can be fatal). It’s best to avoid the risk at all by asking all guests not to share human food with your pets, despite their best puppy dog eyes.

Don’t underestimate your clever scavenger pup, barbecues should not be left unattended and leftovers/scraps should be removed from the table as soon as the meal is finished.

Noise Anxiety
Parties, fireworks and summer storms make Christmas time hard for dogs who are prone to anxiety. Nobody knows your pet better than you do, always observe your mate closely and look for the subtle signs that they are worried, and take action. Pet’s who suffer from noise or storm anxiety will often become destructive and dig under or jump over fences in order to escape the perceived threat. Not only can this result in your dog becoming lost, they could also sustain injuries whilst escaping, or worse, be hit by a car.

Avoid the stressors where possible, and make sure they always have access to a quiet, safe retreat. Some pets will benefit from medication to help them cope through this period, more details here -> https://www.hallvet.com.au/2020/11/storm-phobia/


The Christmas Tree
Though seemingly harmless, the Christmas tree is the cause for a few common Christmas Emergency Vet visits, including:
• Tummy upsets after chewing pine needles or drinking stagnant Christmas tree water.
• Obstruction or injury to the bowel after tinsel, baubles, ornaments, wrappings or ribbons are eaten.
• Electrocution is a risk if your pooch starts chewing the Christmas tree lights.

Holiday Plants
Popular Christmas plants and flowers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, lilies, hibiscus, Christmas cactus, berries, mistletoe and holly leaves are all poisonous to your pets. Make sure they are out of their reach, as consumption could result in illness or even death.

Batteries & Toys
Swallowed batteries are very dangerous for dogs, causing a range of issues from burning their gut to a life-threatening obstruction or stomach rupture! Batteries are a common addition to Christmas gifts so please ensure they are kept well out of reach of your pooch.

Many toys contain small plastic, rubber or metal parts that, if eaten by a dog, can cause choking or dangerous gastrointestinal blockage requiring immediate surgery.

With a little careful planning, you can ensure your Christmas celebrations will be free of unnecessary trips to the vet. However, if you have concerns after hours during the festive season, please call either:

Canberra Veterinary Emergency Services in Gungahlin on: 6225 7257 or,
Animal Emergency Centre Canberra in Fyshwick on: 62806344.

We wish you and your furry family a safe and happy holidays!

2020 Update – Leptospirosis Outbreak In Sydney Suburbs

The infection is often contracted when the dog is exposed to infected rodent urine in ponds or wet soil in poorly drained areas.

Sadly, as of November 2020 there have been 12 fatalities in dogs due to a sudden Leptospirosis outbreak in Sydney. Here are some facts you need to know.

What is Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis (often referred to as Lepto for short) is a bacterial infection that travels throughout the entire body via the blood stream, causing organ dysfunction/failure and internal bleeding. It can be fatal in as little as 48 hours.

What do I need to know?

In 2019 there was a sudden outbreak seeing 8 confirmed cases reported from Sydney Suburbs; Glebe, Darlinghurst, Surry Hills and Redfern.
In August 2020 there was another sudden outbreak with another 4 confirmed cases in Sydney Suburbs Newtown, Balmain, Crows Next and Paddington.

To our knowledge there have been a total of 12 cases, all of which have unfortunately been fatal.

Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, which means that it can be spread to humans too. 

How is it spread?

The bacteria favours warm, moist environments, ponds and stagnant water and areas exposed to flooding. The infection is often contracted when the dog is exposed to infected rodent urine in ponds or wet soil in poorly drained areas.

What can I do to minimize the risk to my dog?

Due to the fatal nature of this disease, we recommend avoiding taking your pets to these parts of Sydney where possible, however if your dog must travel there with you, there are vaccines available to cover them for Leptospirosis.
Initially your dog will require two vaccines 2-4 weeks apart and then annual re-vaccination to maintain immunity. It is not safe to travel until the vaccination is in full effect – about 10 days after the second vaccination.
Avoid any stagnant water or places where there has been flooding, keep your dog on lead when walking and DO NOT allow to swim in or drink dirty water. Again, it is advisable to arrange alternative options where possible.

If you have upcoming travel plans to Sydney with your pets please phone us on 6230 2223 for more information.

Storm Phobia – How You Can Help Your Frightened Friend

It’s that time of year again when we hear many reports of pets suffering from storm phobia. This very real condition is caused by a highly distressing irrational fear beyond any logical self-preservation instinct. It is deserving of our attention and there are effective treatments available.

Australia is bracing for a summer of above-average rainfall and increased risk of severe summer storms. If your pet suffers from storm phobia and anxiety, now is the time to enlist the help of your veterinarian.

So why are some dogs utterly terrified by your average storm whilst others barely bat an eyelid?

Affected dogs will have some degree of genetic predisposition to anxious behaviour often compounded by a scary experience of a storm, particularly one that occurred when they were home alone. It’s no surprise that a fear of separation from their owners can also develop in these pets.

What to look out for?

Signs of storm fear resemble what you would equate to a panic attack. These dogs are overwhelmed by fear and we see the full gamut of fear responses:

Fight, Flight, Fiddle and Freeze.
Fight: These dogs are active, agitated and sometimes destructive. They try to escape the experience, pace and pant.
Flight: Hiding in a closet, under a bed, in a bathroom, scratching at doors and windows in an attempt to get away from the storm.
Fiddle: These more subtle signs of anxiety (also called displacement
behaviours) are less known but important signs of anxiety. The dog may yawn when not sleepy, lick lips when not eating, shake off when not wet.
Freeze: This is the poor trembling soul completely paralysed by fear with no way to cope.

Elevated stress hormones can cause dilated pupils, increased salivation and house soiling. Take these signs seriously. The dog that shakes and hides in the corner may be less obvious than the one that is howling, pacing and destroying barriers, however both individuals are suffering from anxiety and need our help.

More resilient dogs may reset to normal soon after the storm, whilst others are anxious throughout the storm season. With repeated traumatic experiences, some dogs generalise their fear to the precursors of storms and become anxious with changes in barometric pressure, wind, rain or overcast conditions.

Some dogs will show less obvious signs of anxiety than others, however both are suffering from anxiety and need our help.

How can we help?

There are three important aspects to treating any behavioural disorder. We need to manage the environment, train for calm and look at ways to normalise brain chemistry.

Management
Our aim is to reduce our dogs fear by giving them options to avoid the intensity of the storm to a level where they can cope. This is easier said than done and needs to be tailored for each situation.

Mask the noise:
• Play white noise, Spotify is a great source for this.
• Play classical music or music that calms dogs eg “Through a Dogs Ears”. This can also be found on Spotify.
• TV or radio background noise
• Air-conditioning or fan noise.

Mask lightning
• Close curtains and blinds, turn lights on at night
• Offer access to a hiding place without windows

Allow access to a safe place of your dog’s choosing
• Under a bed with blankets pulled down over the edges
• Cover a table or chair to create a safe den
• Protected wardrobes or cupboards
• A crate that has a positive association with the door open
• Choice is mandatory here. Avoid confining your dog against their will. Let them find the place where they feel safest.

Stay with them.
• Dogs are social animals. Your calm presence will make them feel more at ease.
• Yes, it is fine to provide comfort and support. When you dog is in a state of panic, they are not able to think or learn when panicked and you cannot reinforce fear behaviour with cuddles. If they seek comfort, you can help them recover.
• If they are pacing constantly, try popping a lead on and see whether they will sit or lie with you for some calm stroking or massage. Observe their body language and ‘listen’ to what they are telling you.

Adaptil
• This synthetic version of a pheromone produced by lactating
bitches has been shown to promote calm in times of stress. It is a natural approach with no side effects and can be a helpful adjunct to management particularly in milder cases of storm fear. It is available as a spray, collar or diffuser.

Thundershirts
• These work on a similar principle to swaddling a baby. They can help some individuals feel wrapped and protected.

Food
• The food test can give you helpful information. In the height of panic, a dog will not want food. If they will take a favourite treat, this tells us that we are making progress.
• If your dog is able to take a treat during a storm, we can start
some training.

Teaching Calm
Training for calm starts long before the storm event. We first develop simple tools to reward calm when your dog has the mental ease to defer to you calmly for a treat or praise.
Simply teaching ‘Sit’ (treat), ‘Wait’ (treat after a moment delay) and ‘Look’ (lift the treat up beside your eye, meet their eyes softly and treat) rewards calm sitting. Make the treats small, tasty and immediate. Practice several times every day so this becomes second nature. You dog learns that being calm is rewarding.

Only then can you look for opportunities to reward calm when anxiety starts to occur as the weather changes. Training can only help with mild storm anxiety. Once the fear brain has taken over logical thinking, your dog is unable to focus and learn.
Desensitising your dog to the sound of storms using recordings can be helpful in some cases. Choose a time when your dog is relaxed and expose them to the sounds at a level they notice but cope well with. Make sessions short and always stop BEFORE your dog shows any signs of stress. There is a fine line between a non- scary exposure and making them more fearful.
Counterconditioning is about changing the emotional response to the storm from fear to a positive state using a favourite treat or toy. This is combined with desensitisation so that the dog hears the recording of the storm at an intensity they can handle and associates that with the positive experience of a yummy treat or fun game.

Medication
In many cases our dog is so stressed by the storm, that their focus is on self-preservation with no brain space for learning that calm is rewarding. Finding the correct medication to calm that brain can be a life-saving addition to our arsenal against storm fear. Our focus is to reduce anxiety but not sedate the dog. If we can help them overcome that amygdala hijack state and allow the thinking brain to function, we have the option to gain their attention and reward calm. All brains are different, and we can help you to find the most effective medication for your dog. In conjunction with management and training for calm we can improve your dogs welfare during storms.

If your dog shows any of the above signs of anxiety during storms, call us on (02) 6230 2223 to discuss how we can help them.